Why proactive planning is the key to driving retirement for seniors


New research from the University of the Sunshine Coast sheds light on how older drivers can make informed decisions about retiring from driving, emphasising the importance of proactive planning.

In two recent papers published in international journals, researchers from USC explored the factors influencing older drivers’ decisions to retire from driving or continue. Lead author Kyle Schofield, with a background in health promotion and public health, highlighted individual and environmental factors as key influencers.

“These included declining physical health, the desire to maintain control, the cost of vehicle maintenance, and worry about causing harm to others,” said Schofield.

Combining a review of 12 studies involving 600 older and retired drivers from four countries with in-depth interviews of a dozen Sunshine Coast participants, the research underscored the significance of conversations about life after driving as a catalyst for planning driving retirement.

“There is good evidence in international literature that conversations about life after driving are an important motivator in planning for driving retirement,” Schofield noted. “Yet, our local participants reported that they did not receive feedback on their driving, therefore feedback from family, peers and doctors did not play a large role in their decision-making.

“This identifies a great opportunity to encourage and improve conversations about this critical life event in our community.”

Additionally, access to neighbourhood facilities, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and alternative transportation options were found to significantly influence older drivers’ decisions.

The researchers advocate for coordinated and comprehensive resources at the policy level to support older individuals in their planning for driving retirement. “Participants in the Sunshine Coast study were fit and healthy and wanted to continue living vibrant, active lifestyles – walking, cycling, using motorised scooters and public transport,” Schofield emphasised. “Ensuring that older people have the social support, environmental infrastructure and policies to achieve this without driving is extremely important.”

Published in the Journal of Transport and Health and the Journal of Safety Research, these findings are particularly relevant as Australia’s ageing population grows. Associate Professor Florin Oprescu, co-author and study supervisor, emphasised the importance of normalising conversations around driving retirement and fostering respectful dialogue among older drivers, family members, clinicians and peers.

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